I very rarely find a reason to write about politics these days. The absurdity of it all makes it too difficult to write seriously about it. But one point that I think is missing in the current discussions about Andile Mngxitama and his BLF Goonpta movement is the fact that the press, in particular the Mail & Guardian, initially promoted his ‘radical’ thuggery by publishing his columns. It was the M&G that published his articles which promoted a skewed version of ‘dialectical violence’ which called for not dialectical violence but simply for violence (there is a distinction). The editors seemed, quite mistakenly, to claim at the time that Mngxitama was some kind of intellectual and that this ‘thought leadership’. The idea was that he was intellectual who had read and was espousing the ideas of Fantz Fanon and Steve Biko. I doubt very much whether they or indeed he have ever really read Fanon’s work or understood the notion of dialectical violence – reliant as it is on Hegel’s idealism. Personally, I believe, Fanon, if he had lived, would have deeply regretted having promoted the idea that anticolonial violence can lead to the ‘synthesis’ of postcolonialism. Certainly, the last chapter of The Wretched of the Earth would suggest that he understood the permanent impact of violence on the individual psyche.
I think that the press and in particular the M&G which promoted Mngxitama’s brand of vitriol through their publication should take pause and perhaps at least acknowledge that they have been part of the problem. However, having dealt with at least some of the editors at the M&G of that period I very much doubt their hubris will allow them this moment of reflection. In saying this I should also say that I greatly admire the likes of Stefaans Brummer and Sam Sole and the great job they have done for the country. The press should be proud of themselves, but not too proud, for they have their own skeletons lurking in their closets. The fact that they promoted Mngxitama’s articles that condoned violence is simply one of them.